“2014 New Year’s Concert”: The famed Vienna Strauss Festival Orchestra will hold a New Year’s concert at the Seoul Arts Center concert hall on Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. Willy Byuhhira will direct the orchestra, formed 36 years ago, in its performances of “Overture Der Zigeunerbaron”; the waltz “Kuenstlerleben”; “Vergnuegungszug,” Polka-schnell, op. 281; and an excerpt from “Ritter Pazman” by Johann Strauss II, among others. Soprano Hong Hae-ran, the first Asian female winner of the 2011 Queen Elizabeth Grand Prize, will join the orchestra. Tickets are priced from 50,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information call (02) 599-5743.
“The Vienna Boys’ Choir New Year Concert”: The Vienna Boys’ Choir, known for their “heavenly voices,” will hold a New Year’s Concert at the Seoul Arts Center concert hall on Jan. 19, led by its first ever female conductor, Kim Bo-mi. Under the baton of the Korean conductor, the Mozart Team of the choir will present medieval church music, waltzes and folk songs from around the world as well as some songs from film soundtracks. This is the 17th time since 1978 that the boys’ choir, which has been around for 520 years, is visiting Korea. The choir will also perform at Guri Art Hall, Gyeonggi Province; Daegu Opera House; Gimhae Arts Center, South Gyeongsang Province; and Yeosu Yeul Maru, South Jeolla Province. For information and reservations go to www.clubbalcony.co.kr.
“Evgeny Kissin Recital”: Child prodigy-turned-mega pianist Evgeny Kissin will perform at the Seoul Arts Center on March 30, presenting Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 17 in D major, Scriabin’s Sonata No. 2 in G sharp minor and “Four Sea Interludes” from Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes.” As the story goes, the pianist, whose nickname is Genya, started to play the piano at age 2 after hearing his sister play the instrument. He started his professional musical training at 6, entering the Gnessin State Musical College for Gifted Children, made a debut featuring Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor with the Ulyanovsk Symphony Orchestra and became an international sensation at 12 when he played and recorded Chopin piano concertos with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Kissin is also famous for obliging concertgoers, with his 2006 and 2008 concerts finishing after 11 p.m. because of dozens of encore performances. For more information about the concert call 1544-1555 or (02) 580-1300.
New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Kumho Asiana Cultural Foundation)
“New York Philharmonic Orchestra Seoul Concert”: The New York Philharmonic Orchestra, led by music director Alan Gilbert, will give two concerts at Seoul Arts Center on Feb. 6 and 7 as part of its two-week Asian tour. The Feb. 6 concert will open with Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture and his Piano Concerto No. 3, featuring Korean pianist Da Sol. The program is to conclude with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. The next day, the orchestra is to showcase some of the most famous American music ― Marie-Josee Kravis Composer-in-Residence Christopher Rouse’s Rapture; Gershwin’s An American in Paris; Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone. Tickets range between 50,000 won and 320,000 won. For more information, call 02) 6303-1977.
“Red”: The Korean rendition of John Logan’s play “Red” is being performed in Seoul, starring veteran actor Kang Shin-il and popular musical actor Han Ji-sang. The play deals with the life of the late American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and his turbulent relationship with his fictional assistant Ken. “Red” runs until Jan. 26 at Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 35,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, visit www.sac.or.kr.
“Ghost the Musical” (Seensee Company)
“Ghost the Musical”: The Korean production of “Ghost the Musical” is being performed in Seoul. The show is an adaptation of the mega-hit 1990 romantic fantasy-thriller film “Ghost,” starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, which was also hugely popular in Korea. The musical had its world premiere in Manchester, England, in 2011, and was also performed on Broadway in 2012. The current Korean production is the Asian premiere run of the show. It tells the story of Molly, a grieving young woman in danger, and the ghost of her murdered boyfriend Sam, who tries to save her with the help of a wacky psychic. The current run stars some of the most popular musical and TV stars in the country, including Joo Won, Ivy and Park Ji-yeon. “Ghost the Musical” runs until June at D-Cube Arts Center in Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 130,000 won. For more information, call (02) 557-1987.
“Mamma Mia!”: The global smash hit musical “Mamma Mia” is being performed in Seoul starring a British cast. Based on ABBA songs including “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money” and “Thank You for the Music,” the musical offers a hilarious tale of a young bride-to-be’s search for her unknown father. The show premiered in the Korean language starring an all-Korean cast in 2004. The current run is the first time the musical is being performed here in the English language and starring a cast from London. “Mamma Mia!” runs until March 23 at Blue Square’s Samsung Electronics Hall in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Tickets range from 50,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call 1544-1555.
“Music Show Wedding”: Popular musical producer Song Seung-hwan, whose 1997 nonverbal piece “Nanta” became a global hit, has returned with another foreigner-friendly work. Titled “Wedding,” Song’s latest musical is also nonverbal ― its actors and actresses sing, dance, act and play more than 20 musical instruments. The one-of-a-kind performance is specifically designed to draw foreign audiences. The show is a comical theatrical portrait of an ordinary Korean wedding, where the bride’s father isn’t particularly fond of his future son-in-law. Song follows the groom’s hilarious efforts to impress his father-in-law prior to the wedding ceremony, mixed with rhythmic music and dance. “Wedding” runs until Dec. 31 at Music Show Wedding Theater in Hongdae, Seoul. For tickets and information, call (02) 739-8288.
“Wicked”: After playing an unhappy Austrian empress (Elisabeth) and a mysterious, obsessive housekeeper (Rebecca), musical actress Oak Ju-hyun is now cast to play the famous green-skinned witch in Broadway musical “Wicked.” The current run, featuring an all-Korean cast, is the first Korean-language version of the musical. The musical tells the story of two very different witches in the Land of Oz ― the green-skinned, struggling and often-alienated Elphaba and the beautiful and popular blonde Glinda. The show is a ravishing spectacle and fantasy, mixed with a touching account of the difficulties of youth, life-changing friendship and growing up. “Wicked” is on an open run at Charlotte Theater in Jamsil, Seoul. Tickets range from 60,000 won to 140,000 won. For more information, call 1577-3363.
“Jeff Bernat”: Up-and-coming R&B singer-songwriter Jeff Bernat will perform live in Seoul at the Uniqlo AX Hall on Jan. 11. The 23-year-old musician from Reno, Nevada, has gained much attention with his music on social networking sites, including a large following on YouTube. Bernat made an official debut with his album “The Gentleman Approach” released in December 2011. On Dec. 5 of last year, the artist released his second full-length studio album titled “Modern Renaissance.” Tickets to the event can be purchased online for 99,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
“James Blake: Live in Seoul”: James Blake is a young singer-songwriter and producer from London whose critically acclaimed eponymous debut album was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2011. Blake released his second studio album titled “Overgrown” went on to win the 2013 Mercury Prize, beating out heavy favorites including the legendary David Bowie. The album was ranked at the top of the U.S. Dance/Electronic Albums Chart and No. 8 of the U.K. Albums Chart. Blake will perform live in Seoul on Jan. 19 at Uniqlo AX Hall. Tickets can be purchased online, with prices listed at 88,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
“The Avril Lavigne Tour in Seoul”: The internationally renowned Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne will put on a concert in Seoul in February as part of the rocker’s world tour. Lavigne first entered the music scene in 2002 with her debut album “Let Go,” which included her smash hit singles “Complicated” and “Sk8ter Boy.” The album went multiplatinum in a number of countries including the U.S. and the U.K. Lavigne has since sold more than 30 million albums and more than 50 million singles worldwide. In November, the musician released her eponymous fifth studio album featuring lead track “Here’s to Never Growing Up.” Lavigne will perform her solo concert at the Olympic Hall in Seoul on Feb. 19. Tickets prices range from 99,000 won to 121,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com.
R&B group Brown Eyed Soul is to hold two live shows at Olympic Stadium in Seoul, on Feb. 22 and 23. (Santa Music)
“Brown Eyed Soul 4th Album Anniversary Concert”: The four-member R&B ensemble of Brown Eyed Soul will hold two solo concerts in Seoul in commendation of the group’s comeback and their latest release, “Thank Your Soul.” The album was released in December to mark the 10th anniversary since Brown Eyed Soul’s debut. The quintet released its first album “Soul Free” in September 2003, and is one of the few local R&B groups that pride themselves on their American-style approach to soul music. The upcoming Brown Eyed Soul concerts will be held at Olympic Stadium in Seoul on Feb. 22 and 23. Tickets prices range from 88,000 won to 132,000 won. For more information, call (02) 3141-3488 or visit www.interpark.com
Swimmers pose for a photo at the Polar Bear Swimming Contest in Busan last year. (Polar Bear Swimming Contest)
“Polar Bear Swimming Contest”: Busan’s Haeundae Beach, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the nation, is the venue of the annual swimming contest. The event calls for running about 10 meters on the sand, then striding into the sea and swimming 80 meters. Before the commencement, participants can enjoy a wide variety of games and recreational activities on the sand. After the contest, they can take a hotel sauna and have a meal. The swimming competition will be held on Jan. 12. For more information, call (051) 642-5747 or visit bear.busan.com.
“Pyeongchang Trout Festival”: The annual trout fishing event is being held in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province, known as one of the coldest regions with record snowfalls in Korea. The Pyeongchang Trout Festival invites visitors to trout ice fishing and a variety of activities from folk to snow sports such as riding four-wheel ATVs on the ice, snow rafting and sleigh trains. The festival will be held to Feb. 2 by Oedaecheon Stream, located in front of Jinbu Bus Terminal. For more information, visit festival700.or.kr (Korean only) or call (033) 336-4000.
“Hwacheon Sancheoneo Festival”: The festival invites visitors for mountain trout fishing at the scenic mountain town of Hwacheon in Gangwon Province. Known as the habitat of the mountain trout that live in cold, clean water, Hwacheon has drawn more than 1 million visitors in the past seven years to the popular winter festival, chosen as one of the “Seven Wonders of Winter” by CNN and one of the best festivals in Korea by the Culture Ministry. Visitors can fish for trout through a hole in the ice and take part in a variety of outdoor winter activities such as sledding, ice sculpting and ice soccer. The festival runs from Jan. 4-26 at various venues near Hwacheon Stream. For more information, visit www.narafestival.com
(English, Japanese and Chinese available) or call 1688-3005.
“Bugok Hawaii Ice Sculpture Festival”: The Bugok Hawaii Resort, a popular hot spring resort in Bugok, South Gyeongsang Province, is holding its sixth ice sculpture festival from Dec. 22 to Feb. 2. The annual ice sculpture festival invites visitors to its popular hot spring bath and many ice sculptures. The festival also offers winter activities such as ice sledding and snowball fights. The resort has opened its sledding hill and ice-skating and sledding rink, along with a themed hot spring bath in the winter. For more information, call (055) 536-6331 or visit www.bugokhawaii.co.kr
(English, Japanese and Chinese available).
“Femme Fatale” (The National Dance Company of Koreathe)
“Femme Fatale,” “Lee Sang Syndrome,” “Application of the Basics”: The National Dance Company of Korea is kicking off its new season with three experimental projects. Among them, “Femme Fatale,” choreographed by dancer Jang Hyun-soo, depicts the well-known Biblical story of Salome, the daughter of Herodias, who infamously asks for the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter as a reward for dancing the Dance of the Seven Veils. Dancer Cho Jae-hyuk pays special attention to Yi Sang (1910-1937), who is considered to be one of the most imaginative writers in modern Korean literature, and interprets Yi’s works in “Lee Sang Syndrome.” Lastly, dancer Cho Yong-jin makes his choreographic debut with “Application of the Basics,” which features the “basics” of classical Korean dance. “Femme Fatale” runs from Jan. 10 to 11, and “Lee Sang Syndrome” from Jan. 17 to 18. “Application of the Basics” will be on stage from Jan. 24 to 25. All the shows will take place at KB Haneul Youth Theater in Seoul. Tickets are 30,000 won for any of the three performances. For more information, call (02) 2280-4114.
“Thank You!: The 30th Anniversary Special Gala”: Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Korea’s Universal Ballet Company presents a special gala in February. Titled “Thank You!” the program consists of scenes from some of the troupe’s most successful repertoires including “Giselle,” “La Bayadere,” “Onegin,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Don Quixote.” Along with the company’s principal dancers, including Hwang Hye-min and Uhm Jae-yong, prominent Korean-born dancers who dance for overseas troupes ― Seo Hee of the American Ballet Theatre and Kang Hyo-jung of the Stuttgart Ballet ― will visit Seoul to be part of the gala. “Thank You!: The 30th Anniversary Special Gala” runs from Feb. 21 to 23 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. For more information, visit www.universalballet.com
“Living World” by Xu Bing (MMCA)
“Rewriting the Landscape: China and India”: The exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea presents how contemporary artists in China and India perceive social and natural landscapes, featuring work by prominent artists from two of the fastest emerging contemporary art markets. Participating artists include Indian artists Gulammohmmed Sheikh, Achutan Ramachandran and Chinese artists Xu Bing and Yin Xiu Zhen. The special exhibition, held in parallel with the opening of the new Seoul branch of the national art museum, offers glimpse into social conflicts, cultural diversities of the two Asian countries and how artists interpret them in their artworks. The exhibition continues through March 2 at the Gwacheon museum of the MMCA. For more information, visit www.mmca.go.kr
“Homage to Life”: Arario Gallery Cheonan is holding a solo exhibition of Chinese artist Li Fan, known for portraits that depict the emotions of people in China. The exhibition, held seven years after his first in Korea in 2006, features about 100 works that offer insight into the transition of the artist’s style and use of materials. Li teaches printmaking at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, one of the most prestigious art schools in China. The exhibition also features sketches, drawings and notes showing the artist’s contemplations on the psychology of modern people. The exhibition runs until Feb. 23 at Arario Gallery Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province. For more information, call (041) 551-5100.
“Photography tells Korea”: A touring photo exhibition brings together images that reflect Korean society at four city museums in Daejeon, Changwon, Gwangju and Seoul until April 2014. Each exhibition features different images of Korea captured by professional photographers that shed light on the country’s society, people, history and the cities. The first exhibition will continue through Feb. 26 at the Daejeon Museum of Art, followed by the exhibition at the Gyeongnam Art Museum from Jan. 16 to April 16, the Seoul Museum of Art from Jan. 28 to March and the Gwangju Art Museum from Feb. 4-April 14. For more information, visit www.festivalofphotographyinmuseums.com
“Jesus and Deaf Lamb”: One of the most famous biblical scenes ― baby Jesus in the arms of Mary surrounded by Wise Men from the East ― doesn’t feature the usual Western biblical representation in the late artist Woonbo Kim Ki-chang’s Jesus paintings. At a thatched-roof house, home for commoners in the Joseon period (1392-1910), Jesus appears as a happy child in the arms of Mary and wearing a rainbow-striped jeogori ― the traditional Korean children’s jacket. The Eastern Wise Men worshipping the newborn are dressed in official robes of Joseon ministers. Such paintings interpreting Jesus in Korean culture are on view at Seoul Museum’s “Jesus and Deaf Lamb” exhibition that marks the centennial birthday of the artist Kim Ki-chang (1914-2001) at Seoul Museum in Buam-dong, Jongno, Seoul, until Jan. 19. For more information, call (02) 395-0100 or visit www.seoulmuseum.org